My Secret to Making the Best Gin & Tonics? It's All About the Tonic Water

The secret to making the best gin and tonic recipe is the ingredients. Here are my recommendations for the best gin and best tonic water for making gin and tonics.

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glass of gin and tonic with lime on a surface with various bottles
Photo: Penelope Wall

Chalk it up to my English heritage: gin & tonics are a must-have staple in our house. A good gin & tonic is just the thing to cap a long day, or to start off an evening full of possibility. If you ask: When is the right time to enjoy a gin & tonic? I say: It's always the right time.

Gin & tonics are the ultimate refreshing, feel-good drink. They're also one of the easiest cocktails you can make at home. And they require only three ingredients: gin, tonic water and lime. Gin & tonics are so simple, you can't really get them wrong. But, you can get them really, really right. And that's when the magic happens.

Because gin & tonics are so simple, the secret to making the best ones is choosing high-quality ingredients. That includes a good-quality gin. I really love the subtle honey flavor of Barr Hill Gin (from $24, in my G&T, and I love supporting a company that is doing work to help save honeybees and other vital pollinators.

The best tonic water for making gin & tonics, in my opinion, is Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water. The ingredients are just carbonated spring water, sugar, citric acid and natural flavors, including quinine. Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water contains less quinine than other tonic waters (so it's not as bitter) and has a sweet floral, herbaceous flavor from rosemary and lemon thyme. Their 6.8-ounce bottles are the perfect size for making two gin & tonics. Buy it: $6.99 for a 4-pack,

Here's a simple recipe for making your own gin & tonic:

Gin & Tonic Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces good-quality gin

3-4 ounces tonic water

Lime wedge

Fill a highball glass or tumbler with ice. Add gin to the glass and top with tonic water to taste. Squeeze lime into your drink and stir gently. Enjoy!

What Is Tonic Water & Is It Healthy?

Quinine (the ingredient in tonic water that makes it so bitter) has historically been used for medicinal purposes, including treating malaria. Nowadays, tonic water is no more than a delicious mixer. Keep in mind that tonic water is a sugar-sweetened beverage—a gin & tonic typically contains about 190 calories and 15 g carbs. So if you're concerned about your sugar, calories or carb intake, you can cut back on the amount of tonic water you're using, and substitute with some seltzer. Or try a lower-sugar version of tonic water such as Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Premium Indian Tonic Water ($6.99 for a 4-pack,

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